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November 2015 MAINE COASTAL NEWS Page 21. U. S. NAVY NEWS Continued from Page 8.

Command, Communication and Outreach Division

OSTEEN, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy released its fi ndings Sept. 30 in the investigation of a World War II era aircraft wreck site in Osteen Fla.

Naval History and Heritage Command

(NHHC) Archaeologist Dr. George Schwarz personally visited the site, examined recov- ered artifacts and helped organize an ongo- ing survey of the site to document additional wreckage.

His investigation determined that the evidence from the site, informed by research conducted at NHHC of the 25 recorded aircraft losses in the area, is consistent with the wreck of an SBD-5 Dauntless bomber piloted by Ensign William T. Bellmire, who died in the crash. While confi dent of the determination, 100 percent confi rmation is impossible without specific airframe identifi cation evidence, which was not avail- able. The crash occurred 16 miles south of DeLand Naval Air Station on Feb. 1, 1944 during a training mission.

“The accident history card for Ensign

Bellmire’s plane indicates high-speed im- pact and demolition of the aircraft which is consistent with fi ndings at the site,” said Schwarz. “Still, there has been no con- clusive evidence from the wreck site that directly links it to Bellmire’s aircraft.” Additionally, during Schwarz’s visit to Osteen, a search of the site with dogs specially trained to detect human remains turned up nothing. News reports from the time of the accident indicate Bellmire’s body was returned home and buried with military

honors at the Delta Cemetery in Delta, Colo. Those reports also indicate that Bell- mire, 25, was the only child of Clarence L. Bellmire and Shirley May Roady Bellmire who were from Delta, but living in Califor- nia at the time of the crash.

The investigation began in December 2014 when NHHC was notifi ed that what appeared to be aircraft wreckage had been turning up on the property of Osteen resident Rodney Thomas. He contacted Scott Storz, a volunteer at the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum (DNASM), who then reached out to NHHC.

Schwarz visited the site Feb. 18-20 and

worked with Thomas, Storz, and 45 vol- unteers from nearly a dozen organizations to wade through dense vegetation and sift through the Florida sand in search of more clues. More than 240 objects associated with the SBD-5 were excavated and documented, a site map of fi nds was developed, and a protocol for recording future fi nds was de- veloped for local volunteers who intend to assist with continuing the search for aircraft remains under NHHC guidance. “In addition to a better understanding of our history and heritage, site investiga- tions are part of our obligation to those who choose to serve, we will not forget their service and their sacrifi ce,” said Schwarz. “Normally a site investigation like this one will provide a grieving family with some sense of closure,” he added, “but in this case, with the body of the pilot recovered and returned to the family, the investigation is really being driven by the people we worked with in Osteen who are very interested in honoring the life and service of an American Sailor who made the ultimate sacrifi ce in

Jacksonville, FL. Roan Ronald Lightfoot, Bosun, 54, Jacksonville Beach, FL. How- ard John Schoenly, 2nd Assistant Engineer, 51, Cape Coral, FL. Keith William Griffi n, 1st Assistant Engineer, 33, Fort Meyers, FL. Jeffrey Mathias, TOTE Services Chief Engineer, 42, Kingston, MA. Steven Wink Shultz, Chief Mate, 54, Roan Mountain, TN. Frank J. Hamm, Able Seaman, 49, Jackson- ville, FL. Dylan O. Meklin, 3rd Assistant Engineer, 23, Rockland, ME. German Artu- ro Solar-Cortes, Oiler Maintenance Utility, 51, Orlando, FL. Joe Edward Hargrove, Oil Maintenance Utility, 65, Orange Park, FL. James Phillip Porter, General Utility Deck Engineer, 40, Jacksonville, FL. Anthony Shawn Thomas, Oiler Maintenance Utility, 47, Jacksonville, FL. Carey J. Hatch, Able Seaman, 49, Jacksonville, FL. Richard Jo- seph Pusatere, Chief Engineer, 34, Virginia Beach, FL. Mariette Wright, General Utili- ty-Deck Engine, 51, St. Augustine, FL. Mi- chael Lee Holland, 3rd Assistant Engineer, 25, North Wilton, ME. Polish Contractors: Marcin Nita, 34, Poland; Jan Podgorski, 43, Poland; Rafal Andrzej Zdovych, 42, Poland; Plotr Merek Krause, 27, Poland; and Andrzej Roman Truszkowski, 52, Poland. The fi ve Polish sailors where contrac- tors hired for repair and maintenance work. It has been stated that they were not per- forming any work on the engines, but were converting her for service in Alaska. The list of Maine Maritime Academy graduates who were aboard El Faro includes Mike Davidson, Class of 1988; Danielle Randolph, Class of 2005; Mitchell Kufl ik, Class of 2011; Mike Holland, Class of 2012; and Dylan Meklin, Class of 2015.

A letter issue by MMA’s president:

“Hello—I’m Dr. Bill Brennan, Presi- dent of Maine Maritime Academy. “Today, I sent an announcement to the Maine Maritime Academy Community to say that the news we have been anxiously waiting to hear about the crew of the El Faro will not come. Unfortunately, we are now faced with news that none of us wanted to hear.

service to his country. I was proud to join them in that effort.”

In accordance with federal law, the aircraft parts remain property of the gov- ernment. Final disposition of the collected artifacts will be determined by NHHC after they are fully inventoried and assessed. However, in keeping with NHHC’s mission to share naval history, it is likely most of the recovered objects will be loaned to the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum to dis- play for their visitors.

Thousands of pilots trained for war at

DeLand Naval Air Station, which the Navy operated from 1942-1946. The site was re- turned to the city of DeLand after the war, and is still in operation today with one 4,300 foot-long runway and a longer one that is 6,000 feet.

Research Vessel Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) Delivered

From Team Ships Public Affairs

ANACORTES, Wash. (NNS) -- The Aux- iliary General Purpose Oceanographic Research Vessel (AGOR), R/V Neil Arm- strong, AGOR 27, delivered to the U.S. Navy, Sept. 23. R/V Neil Armstrong will carry on the legacy of the naval aviator and astronaut who stated, “Research is creating new knowledge.”

AGOR 27 is a well-equipped modern oceanographic research platform capable of satisfying a wide range of research activities conducted by academic institutions and national laboratories involved in oceano- graphic research. R/V Neil Armstrong is the fi rst of two planned Ocean Class AGOR ships.

greater courage and resolve. “The Alfond Student Center will be open for the rest of the day and evening for our students, faculty and staff to gather and support one another.

“The delivery of this superb ship, R/V

Neil Armstrong, is a testament to the tre- mendous teamwork and shipbuilding efforts of the Navy/DCI team, especially when considering this was a fi rst in class hull from a shipbuilder without previous Navy expe- rience,” said Mike Kosar, program manager for Support Ships, Boats, and Craft in PEO Ships. “AGOR 27 will provide signifi cant capabilities in support of research efforts across the world and throughout the marine science community.”

Based on a single-hull commercial

design, R/V Neil Armstrong and R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28) are approximately 238 feet long and incorporate the latest technologies, including high-effi ciency diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gasses, and new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for com- municating with the world.

AGOR 27 is capable of assisting with integrated, interdisciplinary, general purpose oceanographic research in coastal and deep ocean areas. The ship will be op- erated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution under a charter party agreement with Offi ce of Naval Research (ONR). The vessel will operate with a crew of 20 with accommodations for 24 scientists. As one of the Defense Department’s

largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the develop- ment and procurement of all destroyers, am- phibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Currently, the majority of shipbuilding programs man- aged by PEO Ships are benefi ting from serial production effi ciencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.

EL FARO Goes Missing in Hurricane Joaquin - 33 Missing Continued from Page 1.

privacy while they grieve.”

“The U.S. Coast Guard held a press conference at 3:00 pm to announce that at sunset today they will suspend their search for the missing crew members of El Faro. “Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of all of the crew. Our thoughts have been with them and will continue to be with them.

“Our community will grieve this to-

gether. Our students know that I am here to support them, as are the staff and faculty and the wider community of Castine. We will stand together and we will go on. “Those of us who sail on ships know that while the sea is to be respected, the sea is not to be feared. That is why we train, that is why we prepare; that is why we are here. “We have lost friends, colleagues, and

alumni. We honor them best by continuing to commit to the excellence they bravely pursued. We honor them best by continuing to dedicate our diligence to that which was their passion. And we honor them best by steeling our individual and community resolve to educate and train for a world full of perils; not just for those at sea, but for those that fi nd us wherever we may go in our lives. For this terrible tragedy reminds us that nothing in life is certain; that risk lurks at every turn; and that peril can and often does indiscriminately call upon each one of us.~ It is indeed at times like these that we must recognize the commonality of all risk, and draw upon each other to resurrect our strength, and therefrom emerge with an even

“And now I have a special message for you, the media: the other day at our commu- nity gathering I thanked the media for the re- spect you have shown this community. I ask that you continue to respect us and recognize that we are all grieving. And I ask that you be especially respectful of my kids. These students – my students need the opportunity to understand this and to understand the grief that they feel and I ask that you respect their

TOTE Maritime has stated that they have set up a family relief fund for the 33 families of the crew members of EL FARO. This will be administered by the Seamen’s Church Institute and one hundred percent of the donations raised will go to the victim’s families. EL FARO was built by Sun Shipbuild- ing and launched January 1975. She was designed to sail in heavy conditions off the coast of Alaska. She was 790 feet in length and had a capacity of 600 FEU.

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